Fiction Book Group - Close to Home by Michael Magee

Close to Home cover image

The October Fiction Book Group will be meeting via Zoom

Monday, October 9th • 6:30 PM ET / 11:30 PM IST via Zoom
Session open to all, no registration required.

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While growing up in West Belfast, Sean does every­thing he's supposed to do. He works hard, he studies, and he - mostly - stays out of trouble. The thirty-year conflict is over, he's told, and his future is lit with promise.

But when Sean returns home from university, he finds much of the same-the same friends doing the same gear in the same clubs; the same lost broth­ers and mad fathers; the same closed doors; the same silences. There are no jobs, Sean's degree isn't worth the paper it's written on, and no one will give him the time of day. One night, he assaults a stranger at a party, and everything begins to come undone.

Close to Home begins with this sudden act of violence and expands into a startling portrait of working-class Ireland under the long shadow of the Troubles. It's a first novel drawn from life, written with the immediacy of thought. It's about what happens when men get desperate, about the cycles of loss and trauma and secrecy that keep them trapped, and about the struggle to get free.


“Though the voice is decidedly Irish, the message of Michael Magee’s dead-on debut novel is universal. At its core, Close to Home is about finding a way to transcend the pain, the people and the place you’re born into . . . Magee’s yarn unspools like a story told over a couple of pints. The result is an intimate, dizzying onslaught that highlights the contrast between fear and joy, love and hate.”
—Eli Cranor, The New York Times Book Review

“Like [Sally] Rooney, Magee explores the world of a literary-minded 20-something navigating the distinctions of class in an affecting story of self-discovery. But his voice is wholly his own: unflinching, direct, disarmingly sensitive and informed by his own experiences . . . Suffusing his narrative with honesty and grace, Magee succeeds in bringing his neighborhood to life for readers and suggests that amid what seems like a never ending struggle, there is always room for hope.”
—Michael Patrick Brady, The Washington Post

“An exceptional debut destined for novel of the year shortlists.”
Martin Doyle, Irish Times

Michael Magee

About the Author

Michael Magee was born and grew up in West Belfast. He is the fiction editor of The Tangerine, and his work has appeared in Winter Papers, The Stinging Fly, and The Lifeboat, and in The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working-Class Writing. He recently received his PhD in creative writing from Queen’s University, Belfast. Close to Home is his first novel.

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